Big Publishing

Harry Potter and Tom Kerridge fuel Bloomsbury’s record revenue

22 May 2018

From The Guardian:

The evergreen Harry Potter franchise and the popularity of TV chef Tom Kerridge’s Lose Weight for Good has driven book publisher Bloomsbury’s revenue to the highest level in its 32-year history.

Bloomsbury Publishing reported a 13% surge in revenues to £161.5m in the year to the end of February, its best performance since it was founded in 1986.

. . . .

Sales of the Harry Potter series grew 31% year-on-year, helped by special editions of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

The continued popularity of the franchise helped drive sales at Bloomsbury’s children’s division by 24% to £69m, with the publisher’s biggest-selling book of the year a new illustrated edition of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

Nigel Newton, the chief executive and co-founder of Bloomsbury, said the popularity of the boy wizard showed no sign of fading.

“You could almost say that the Harry Potter series is increasing in popularity,” he said. “If you put aside the years that the first books were being put out – those sales will never be rivalled – sales have never been higher.

“The enduring appeal of JK Rowling’s writing as new generations of children come along to take up their parents’ favourite book is continuing to make Harry Potter more widely read than ever.”

Link to the rest at The Guardian

For Publishers, 2018 Is Off to a Decent Start

21 May 2018

PG notes that the title of the OP is a classic example of damning with faint praise.

From Publishers Weekly:

The four large publicly traded consumer publishers that recently reported their financial results for the quarter ended March 31 were all able to point to some good financial news.

HarperCollins had the best results, with sales up 6.4% compared to the same quarter last year and profits rising 16.2%. In a conference call discussing results, Susan Panuccio, CFO of HC parent company News Corp, said the sales gains were led by the general and Christian publishing divisions. Backlist titles did particularly well, accounting for 58% of revenue in the quarter, compared to 52% a year ago, Panuccio said. She added that the strong performance of the backlist helped to boost margins.

. . . .

Another important contributor was downloadable audiobooks. The format had strong gains in the quarter, helping to offset softness in e-book sales and leading to a 5% increase in overall digital sales at HC compared to the prior year. The company said that downloadable audio accounted for about 25% of all digital revenue in the recent period. Digital sales represented 22% of consumer revenue for the quarter—the same percentage the format accounted for in the quarter last year.

Though revenue at Lagardère publishing rose only 0.4% in the first quarter over the same period last year, sales at its U.S. subsidiary, Hachette Book Group, increased 5.4%. HBG CEO Michael Pietsch said the first-quarter gains “came from many places: #1 bestselling books by HBG house authors James Patterson, David Baldacci, Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child, and Brad Meltzer.”

. . . .

Lagardère said that the companywide publishing group’s revenue was affected by a negative €23 million exchange rate, which was offset by the acquisitions of Brainbow, Bookouture, Jessica Kingsley, and Summerside. The company also noted that e-books’ share of revenue fell again in the quarter, dropping from 10% in the first period of 2017 to 9.1%.

The Houghton Mifflin Harcourt trade group eked out a small sales increase in the first quarter, although its operating loss grew slightly compared to 2017’s losses. In its quarterly SEC filing, HMH attributed the sales rise to “higher licensing income along with print title sales such as the Instant Pot series and Whole30 series.” The greater loss was largely due to a change in the company’s sales mix: last year, HMH sold lots of The Handmaid’s Tale and 1984 e-books, which have higher margins than print editions.

. . . .

Bertelsmann, which owns 75% of the country’s largest trade publisher, Penguin Random House, issued only a brief quarterly update and pointed to a strong PRH bestseller performance in the first quarter. Pearson, which has a 25% stake in PRH, said the publisher was “trading in line with expectations.”

Link to the rest at Publishers Weekly

PG says that the financial performance of Big Publishing is not half-bad.

He looked up a few more examples:

“Finally, I would like to put to rest any concerns you may have about him embarrassing the Church with the scandal of an adulterous affair.  I believe him to be completely safe in this regard, as he has neither the strength of character to carry it off, nor the personal charm for the matter to become relevant.”

. . . .

“I can’t understand why people say what they do about you.”

. . . .

“It is, in my opinion, an exaggeration to suggest, as is sometimes done, that his line of thought is worthless.”

. . . .

Damn with faint praise, assent with civil leer,
And without sneering, teach the rest to sneer;
Willing to wound, and yet afraid to strike,
Just hint a fault, and hesitate dislike.

– Alexander Pope, Epistle to Dr Arbuthnot


Traditional publishers’ ebook sales drop as indie authors and Amazon take off

20 May 2018

From GeekWire:

Ebook sales are dying. Ebooks are insanely popular.

If the short definition of cognitive dissonance is holding two contradictory ideas to be true, ebooks are about as dissonant as digital content gets.

Yet ebooks may also represent a chapter in the still-being-written story of how keeping track of what’s happening with content hasn’t always kept pace with the technology that’s transformed it.

Let’s start with the bad news. Two new sets of numbers covering 2017 show ebook sales are on the decline, both in terms of unit and dollar sales.

The first, released in April by market research firm NPD’s PubTrack Digital, saw the unit sales of ebooks fall 10 percent in 2017 compared to 2016. In absolute numbers, that meant the roughly 450 publishers represented saw ebook sales drop from 180 million units to 162 million over a year’s time.

The second, just released by the American Association of Publishers, reported a decline in overall revenue for ebooks, a year-to-year decrease of 4.7 percent in 2017. AAP tracks sales data from more than 1,200 publishers.

This ebook decline occurred in an overall publisher revenue environment that AAP said was essentially flat in 2017. So some other kinds of book formats that AAP watches, like hardback books, went up as ebooks went down. For its part, NPD says when combining print and ebook unit sales, ebooks’ percentage of the total dropped from 21 percent in 2016 to 19 percent in 2017.

. . . .

On the surface it would seem like all of this is going to come as a surprise to boosters who thought ebooks would replace traditional paper book publishing completely.

But there are three key words to keep in mind: “traditional book publishing.” And that’s the good ebook news.

Because the very same technology that allowed traditional publishers to create and sell ebooks also allowed authors to do the same — directly to readers.

NPD and AAP don’t measure those indie sales. Centralized reporting of direct-from-author sales is tougher to come by, but by all anecdotal measures the independent market has taken off, notably in the also-still-large category of adult fiction.

. . . .

One source of numbers for online book sales, including for indie ebooks, is the website Author Earnings. It recently estimated that traditional publisher reporting is, “now missing two-thirds of U.S. consumer ebook purchases, and nearly half of all ebook dollars those consumers spend.”

. . . .

For all categories of ebooks, Author Earnings figures purely “indie” publishing accounted for at least 38 percent of ebook units and 22 percent of ebook dollars in the last nine months of 2017. And that doesn’t include micro presses, Amazon’s imprints, and what it calls “single-author mega imprints” (think J.K. Rowling’s Pottermore).

. . . .

[M]ore than half of SFWA’s membership has done some kind of independent publishing. Importantly, SFWA said, there was no apparent difference in range of income between indie and traditionally published members.

Jeff Bezos, whose Amazon distributes a lot of independently published ebooks, made it a point to note in his annual letter to shareholders that, “Over a thousand independent authors surpassed $100,000 in royalties in 2017 through Kindle Direct Publishing.”

. . . .

Part of the apparently increasing shift of authors to indie status may be about that money. “In traditional publishing, the writer sees a sliver of the profits — 5-15 percent,” SFWA President Cat Rambo, herself a hybrid author, told me. “In small press publishing, that number goes up significantly, and indie writers get to keep the biggest portion of the pie.”

. . . .

But Rambo also suspected the decline in traditional publishers’ ebook sales may due to pricing, a potentially Titanic-sized problem of publishers’ own making.

“When I see an ebook that sells for twice the price of the paperback version, either someone has lost their mind, is asleep at the wheel, or is deliberately steering the ship towards an iceberg,” she said.

Link to the rest at GeekWire

Fact or friction: the problem with factchecking in the book world

16 May 2018

From The Guardian:

Recent weeks have seen a flurry of conversation about factchecking in the publishing industry. Two high-profile authors have had their work’s accuracy questioned by their sources, leading to something of a reckoning in the book world. Many people are asking how these inaccuracies could have happened, but those familiar with the publishing process say they aren’t surprised.

Last month, Sally Kohn’s book The Opposite of Hate debuted to much media attention and celebrity endorsement. However, shortly after the book dropped, Call Your Girlfriend podcast co-host Aminatou Sow headed to Twitter to dispute a quote that had been attributed to her in the book and said that Kohn, a political pundit who appears on CNN, “admitted … that she did not go back to factcheck sources in her book”. In response, Kohn released a statement that said, in part: “I … regret that I did not double-check before using Aminatou’s quote and attributing it to her.”

Just two weeks later, Amy Chozick released her book Chasing Hillary. Chozick was the New York Times reporter assigned to cover Hillary Clinton’s failed presidential campaigns in 2008 and 2016. Clinton’s daughter Chelsea tweeted at Chozick about what she said were factual inaccuracies in the book, and noted that no one ever contacted her to verify them. The facts Chelsea disputes are about receiving a keratin hair treatment and popping champagne on election night. For her part, Chozick says she hired a factchecker and referred to her book’s author’s note, which reads: “This book is a work of nonfiction in that everything in it happened. But this is not a work of journalism, in that the recollections, conversations and characters are based on my own impressions and memories of covering Hillary Clinton and her family.” Chozick’s PR representative at HarperCollins did not return a request for comment.

These controversies have raised concerns about the accuracy and standards of published books. Similar concerns were circulated earlier this year when Michael Wolff released his book about Donald Trump’s White House, Fire and Fury. But what anyone who has never published a book might not realize is that the bar for factchecking books during the editing process is low, if it even exists at all. Not only that, it’s common for publishers to never have a conversation with authors about the issue of factchecking and to assume that getting it right is entirely on the author.

. . . .

“On a fundamental level, a publisher has to trust that authors will perform due diligence when it comes to verifying and sourcing facts, and that they will not knowingly misrepresent events or individuals in their work,” explains Hannah Wood, an editor who has worked in publishing industry since 2008. “This is the essence of the author warranties and indemnities section of a contract. Boilerplate language varies, but it generally affirms that the work is original, that it’s not libelous and that it’s accurate.”

Wood says that as the publishing industry stands now, constraints make it nearly impossible for publishers to be able to dedicate the kind of time and financial resources that would be required for a full factcheck on every book they publish. So while publishing houses provide copy-editing, proofreading and legal services who keep an eye out for issues of libel and intellectual property. Factchecking is usually outside the scope of what they can feasibly do.

“In the broad sense, factchecking is going back and checking on the sentence level for specific facts like stats and descriptions and that sort of thing,” says Brooke Borel, author of The Chicago Guide To Fact-Checking. “But also higher level, ‘Do all of these facts add up to something that’s true?’”

And while magazine journalism is usually thoroughly factchecked by a third party, “books are almost NEVER fact checked,” science writer and former factchecker Erin Biba said on Twitter (though she notes in a follow-up email that technically, her tweet itself hasn’t been factchecked). “Publishers don’t pay to factcheck books so writers have to pay out of their own pockets and that’s rarely possible. When I was a factchecker I rarely used a book as a source because they were often inaccurate and contained errors.”

. . . .

But with so many examples of high-profile books whose facts have been disputed in such a short period of time, it might be time for the book publishing industry to take a look at its standards and consider whether there might be a better way going forward.

Link to the rest at The Guardian

PG has a couple of immediate responses:

  1. He assumes all writing about contemporary US politics is fiction so he won’t be disappointed.
  2. These days, the traditional publishing industry has practices, but no standards.


Are ebooks dying or thriving? The answer is yes

14 May 2018

From Quartz:

It is a heartwarming story: In spite of the endless onslaught of digital content, American readers have collectively put down their screens and decided to embrace once more that beloved tactile rectangular prism that reminds us, with its weight at the bottom of our bags, of its immeasurable heft. Since 2015, major news outlets, including this one, have reported the triumphant return of print: that “real” books are back, and ebooks have lost their gleam.

Of course, it’s not entirely true. Yes, ebooks are doing just fine: Americans consume hundreds of millions of them a year. But many of their authors are writing and publishing books, and finding massive audiences, without being actively tracked by the publishing industry. In fact, the company through which they publish and distribute their books, a tech behemoth disguised as a benevolent, content-agnostic retailer, is the only entity with any real idea of what’s going on in publishing as a whole.

Amazon’s power over self-publishing, a shadow industry running outside the traditional publishing houses and imprints, is insidiously invisible. As a result, the publishing industry has a data problem, and it doesn’t look like Amazon will be loosening its grip any time soon.

. . . .

They don’t often get nominated for huge book prizes, noticed by the New York Times book review, or endorsed by the president. But over the past seven years, self-published books—predominantly sold as ebooks–have offered a rare avenue through which writers can make a living just from writing, as opposed to speaking, teaching, and/or consulting. By cutting out publishers, writers sidestep print and distribution costs, increase their revenue, and are beholden to readers and algorithms, not critics, editors, marketers, or sales people. A decent writer with a flair for self-promotion, or a decent entrepreneur with writing chops, can earn serious cash.

. . . .

Self-publishing has since exploded, particularly in romance, fantasy, and science fiction. Though an average is impossible to estimate, top-selling authors can sell hundreds of thousands of self-published books on Amazon, which, with revenue of $2 per book, can generate millions of dollars. For the past few years, mega-selling romance writer H.M. Ward has been making a seven-figure salary across self-publishing platforms, more than half of which came through Amazon. At one point,she cracked double-digit millions in sales. According to one estimate, last year 2,500 self-published authors made at least $50,000 in book sales across self-publishing platforms, before the platforms’ cuts.

. . . .

The information asymmetry between Amazon and the rest of the book industry—publishers, brick-and-mortar stores, industry analysts, aspiring writers—means that only the Seattle company has deeply detailed information, down to the page, on what people want to read. So an industry that’s never been particularly data-savvy increasingly works in the dark: Authors lose negotiating power, and publishers lose the ability to compete on pricing or even, on a basic level, to understand what’s selling.

. . . .

But ebook sales are anybody’s guess. Amazon doesn’t report its ebook sales to any of the major industry data sources, and it doesn’t give authors more than their own personal slice of data. A spokesperson from Amazon writes by email that “hundreds of thousands of authors self-publish their books today with Kindle Direct Publishing,” but declined to provide a number, or any sales data.

. . . .

Without good data, there’s no complete picture of the industry. News stories say digital fatigue is sounding the death knell of ebooks, as readers across the country devour $700 million dollars of untracked digital files. Publishers are less able to see what’s selling in certain commercial genres, and less able to take risks on debut authors. Bookstore attendance becomes lopsided, and a large swath of American readers get algorithm-driven book creation. As authors move to self-publishing, the creativity pool becomes bifurcated.

“I think it hurts everyone,” says publishing consultant Jane Friedman. “Because everyone gets to put forward the narrative they would personally like to believe in.” Publishers believe ebooks were a failed experiment, bookstore owners can cheer the triumph of their raison d’être, print lovers get to gloat that screens will never kill the old-school ways. Self-published authors can keep making money, and trying to light lamps to cut through the data darkness.

Link to the rest at Quartz

US Publishers’ StatShot 2017 Report

9 May 2018

From Publishing Perspectives:

In its release this morning (May 9) of 2017 data from the StatShot tracking program, the Association of American Publishers (AAP) is reporting that overall publisher revenue for the year was flat at US$14.7 billion.

. . . .

An increase of $96 million (1.3 percent) is being cited in trade consumer books, bringing that sector to $7.6 billion in 2017. That change is seen as being centered in adult books where there was a 3-percent uptick in revenue. The adult books category accounts, the AAP says, for more than 65 percent of revenue for trade books.

It’s important to bear in mind that the figures represented in StatShot are described as representing “publishers’ net revenue for the US”–in other words what publishers sell to bookstores, direct to consumers, online venues, and so on. These are not retail or consumer sales figures. Especially in the area of digital products, we remind readers that this compilation of revenue statistics has no sight into the sales action of the major online retailers led by Amazon, of course.

. . . .

In terms of trends, the US publishers’ association cites three key observations, starting with a fifth year of audio growth:

In growth percentage, downloaded audio dominated with 29.7-percent growth compared to 2016. This is the fifth year of double-digit growth for this format, revenue nearly tripling to what it was in 2012
Ebook sales were seen to decline for a third year by 4.7 percent. That’s a much lower rate of decline than has been seen in past years–in 2015 and 2016, the AAP saw double-digit declines for ebooks.  And one exception was the reportage from religious presses, which saw a revenue increase in ebooks.
Higher education publishers’ revenue is reported to have been flat in 2017 (an increase of only 0.2 percent. This did, however, follow a decline in the previous year.
Adult books showed an increase over 2016 of $148.1 million

Link to the rest at Publishing Perspectives

In the #MeToo Moment, Publishers Turn to Morality Clauses

4 May 2018

From Publishers Weekly:

Until recently, the term “moral turpitude” is not one that crossed the lips of too many people in book publishing. But Bill O’Reilly, Milo Yiannopoulos, Sherman Alexie, Jay Asher, and James Dashner changed all that.

A legal term that refers to behavior generally considered unacceptable in a given community, moral turpitude is something publishers rarely worried themselves about. No longer.

Major publishers are increasingly inserting language into their contracts—referred to as morality clauses—that allows them to terminate agreements in response to a broad range of behavior by authors. And agents, most of whom spoke with PW on the condition of anonymity, say the change is worrying in an industry built on a commitment to defending free speech.

“This is very much a direct response to #MeToo,” said one agent when asked about publishers’ growing insistence on morality clauses. Most sources interviewed for this article agreed with this sentiment, citing the way sexual misconduct allegations and revelations are ending careers and changing the way companies do business. But it’s not just sexual harassment charges (which embroiled bestselling authors O’Reilly, Alexie, Asher, and Dashner) that publishers are scrambling to protect themselves against. It’s also the fallout that can come from things their authors say.

The situation with Yiannopoulos highlights this. S&S’s purchase of his book Dangerous in December 2016 caused a backlash in certain circles of the industry, with some complaining that the right-wing provocateur peddled in hate speech and should not be given a platform by a major publisher.

In February 2017, after the deal received bad press and several of S&S’s authors threatened to leave it, the publisher canceled Yiannopoulos’s book. The cancelation coincided with the resurfacing of an old interview Yiannopoulos gave, in which he appeared to condone child abuse.

S&S said that it canceled Dangerous because the manuscript was not to its liking. (The language in most author contracts gives publishers quite a bit of latitude in determining what constitutes a suitable manuscript.) Some felt, however, that the publisher was looking for a reason to drop the “alt-right” bad boy. Yiannopoulos sued S&S but wound up dropping the case earlier this year.

The controversy surrounding Dangerous highlights the stakes for publishers at a moment when platforms and reputations can be built, or destroyed, with a tweet. For agents, the Yiannopoulos case underlines some of the biggest concerns about morality clauses: the threat of muzzling speech.

“The gist of it,” one agent said in reference to a clause in Penguin Random House’s boilerplate, “is that [the publisher] wants the right to cancel an author’s book anytime the author says or does something the publisher doesn’t agree with. It’s crazy.”

. . . .

 “There are obviously a lot of very complex things going on here,” he said, speaking to the way publishers are reacting to the shifting social climate. He also noted that most publishers he’s dealt with have been open to changing these clauses. “When you go back to [publishers] and remind them that authors are allowed protected speech, political or otherwise, my experience is that they’ve been very responsive.”

But the agent who called these clauses “crazy” said he felt that more nefarious possibilities lie ahead. “Once Medusa’s head is removed from the box, a whole series of events can occur,” he complained. “Maybe [the publisher] signs up three books for $1 million, and the first book doesn’t do so well, and they use this clause to get around what’s legal and fair. This is like dropping a pebble in a pond: there are a lot of ripples.”

. . . .

“There are instances where it is appropriate to cancel a contract with someone—if, say, they are writing a book on investing and they’re convicted of insider trading.” But Rasenberger has concerns about the new boilerplates she’s been seeing. “These clauses need to be very narrowly drawn. The fear is that clauses like these can quash speech that is unpopular, for whatever reason.”

Another agent admitted to being distressed by the fact that some of the morality clauses she’s seen “are going very far.” She said that though she and many of her colleagues think it’s “not unfair for a publisher to expect an author to be the same person when it publishes the book as when it bought the book,” she’s worried how extreme some of the language in these new clauses is.

“If you’re buying bunny books or Bible books, these clauses make sense,” said Lloyd Jassin, a lawyer who specializes in publishing contracts, referring to deals for children’s books and Christian books. He wondered, though, about a publisher trying to hold authors of any other type of book to a moral standard. Noting that morality clauses are about money, not morality (specifically, they’re about a publisher’s ability to market an author), he posed a hypothetical. “Is the author of The El Salvador Diet, which touts a fish-only regimen, allowed to be photographed eating at Shake Shack? That goes to the heart of the contract.” He paused and added: “This is definitely a free speech issue.”

Link to the rest at Publishers Weekly

PG is old enough to remember when morality clauses aka morals clauses were considered unacceptably puritanical.

Morality clauses are standard practice in some Texas divorces. (They may also be used in some other states, but PG has only heard about the Texas variety.)

PG understands that courts in several Texas counties automatically issue orders including morality clauses on a temporary basis when a divorce petition is filed and there are minor children. Morality clauses can also be permanent and continue after the divorce. Since a divorce court may have continuing jurisdiction over custody matters, if the custodial parent and children move out of state, a custodial parent who violates the morality clause elsewhere may be hauled back into a Texas court for enforcement purposes.

PG further understands that a typical Texas morality clause will prohibit a custodial parent from having any adult to whom the custodial parent is not married be present in the home from 10:00 pm to 7:00 am if the children are also there. Grandparents and similar relatives are permitted, but on at least on occasion, a morality clause has been enforced to prevent a lesbian lover from spending the night with a custodial parent.

On many more occasions, a “friend” of the custodial parent may walk out of the door at 9:59 pm and quietly return at 10:30 pm after the children are in bed. In the morning, when the alarm clock sounds at 6:30 am, the friend gets up, gets dressed and leaves, only to return at 7:01 am with donuts.

As might be assumed, if the non-custodial parent asks for a change of custody because the morality clause was violated, the kids are usually the principal witnesses in such litigation.

PG has not made these comments to denigrate the great state of Texas, its laws, judges or citizens. He is merely pointing out that the same types of legal provisions that might be considered hopelessly retrograde in the context of a Texas divorce are now absolutely right, proper and essential in a Manhattan publishing contract.


Books by women priced 45% lower, study finds

1 May 2018

From The Guardian:

A study of more than 2m books has revealed that titles by female authors are on average sold at just over half the price of those written by men.

The research, by sociologist Dana Beth Weinberg and mathematician Adam Kapelner of Queens College-CUNY, looked titles published in North America between 2002 and 2012. The authors analysed the gender of each author by matching names to lists of male and female names, and cross-referenced with information about price, genre and publication.

Books by women released by mainstream publishers, they found, were priced on average 45% lower than books by men. In a paper published in the journal PLOS One, the academics point out that there are more female authors writing in genres such as romance, which are generally priced lower than male-dominated genres such as science. But even after accounting for these differences, they found that prices for authors with identifiably female names were 9% lower than for male authors.

Weinberg said the study was inspired by the VIDA counts of book reviews, which have shown the skew towards reviews of books by male authors, written by male reviewers. “Our study looked at all three types of discrimination – the gender segregation by book genre, the different value placed on these genres, and then finally the difference within the genres,” she said. “VIDA has been very good about calling attention to the first issue, namely the lack of representation of female authors in certain genres, and others have emphasised how books written predominantly by women and for women such as romance and women’s fiction do not receive the recognition they deserve.”

It was little surprise to see evidence of segregation by genre and the differing values placed on each genre, Weinberg added, but the researchers were very surprised at how clear this discrimination was.

. . . .

The study also looked at self-published, or independently published, titles over the same period, finding that when authors priced books themselves, there was far greater equality between the genders – although there was still a price gap of 7%. Inequality was also seen within genres for self-publishers, at 4% compared with the 9% for traditionally published books.

“Without the publishers, we see slightly less discrimination, but it’s still apparent, and it follows the same patterns,” said Weinberg. “The easy answer [for the disparity] would be that publishing companies are sexist, but the indie findings challenge that simple explanation. The findings point to the strength of shared social contexts. Likely, publishers and authors share many of the same unconscious biases about what genre specialties are appropriate for male or female authors and about the value of those genres, and indie authors may also be mimicking what they see in the traditional publishing world. In addition, both traditional publishers and indie authors are creating and reacting to markets for their work, or to their perceptions of those markets, and placing and pricing their titles accordingly.”

Link to the rest at The Guardian

Traditional Publishing Ebook Sales Dropped 10% In 2017

30 April 2018

From Forbes:

Traditional publishers sold 10% fewer ebook units in 2017 compared with the previous year, according to data released by PubTrack Digital. Total sales were 162 million in 2017 rather than the 180 million units sold the year before.

The news won’t come as a surprise to anyone who has followed traditional ebook sales trends over the past few years: Nielsen’s reports put 2016 ebook unit sales from the top 30 traditional publishers down a full 16% from their 2015 numbers. But this isn’t a comeback story for print, and shouldn’t be considered evidence of a waning public interest in ebooks. The fact that traditionally published ebook sales fell 10% last year isn’t the full picture. As traditional publishers saw sales drop, audiences moved to indie publishers, largely on Amazon. The reason, according to Jonathan Stolper, who was the SVP and global managing director for Nielsen Book in 2016, comes down to pricing. Nielsen’s Books and Consumers survey, according to a Publishers Weekly paraphrase of Stolper, found “that price is the top priority for e-book buyers when considering which book to purchase.” In 2015, the Big Five publishing houses raised ebook prices to around $8 a book, far higher than the $3-a-book price point independent publishers settled on.

The result: Traditional publishers priced themselves out of the market, and their 10% drop in 2017 is just the latest evidence that the value a traditional publisher adds — whether editing, gatekeeping, or marketing — isn’t as highly valued by ebook buyers as a low pricetag.

. . . .

Amazon has propelled at least a thousand authors in its Kindle Direct Publishing program to success in 2017: That’s the number that CEO Jeff Bezos noted were earning at least $100,000 in royalties in a recent shareholder letter. Nielsen’s numbers across 2012-2015 revealed that as the Big Five publishers’ ebook market share fell 12%, small publishers and self-published authors’ market share rose 23%.

Link to the rest at Forbes

Wattpad Novel

29 April 2018

From Publishing Perspectives:

With more than 905,000 reads at Wattpad to date, the first installment of author Kara Barbieri’s ‘Permafrost’ trilogy has a January release date, potentially the next platform-born YA bestseller.

. . . .

In the latest platform-to-Big-Five cover reveal for a title that began life on Wattpad, Macmillan’s Wednesday Books has announced January 8 as the publication date for Kara Barbieri’s White Stag.

. . . .

The YA series then was described as having been “pitched as Twilight Meets Game of Thrones, featuring a 17-year-old girl who was captured from her village to live in the brutally beautiful Permafrost, where she finds herself becoming more monster than human and must uncover secrets to find the truth about who she is and the world that has become her home.”

In a prepared statement provided to Publishing Perspectives, Gardner is quoted, saying, “Kara’s story exploded among readers shortly after she started writing, finding a home in the Wattpad community.

“It’s a story we knew would connect with audiences of Wattpad. People couldn’t put this story down, enthralled by its mix of fantasy and action combined with themes of female empowerment.

“White Stag is a perfect example of how Wattpad creates opportunities for authors. We can’t wait to see this story take the world by storm as a book next year.”

Link to the rest at Publishing Perspectives

PG had to double-check the dates in the OP.

In an article dated April 27, 2018, Macmillan is publicizing a novel that it acquired in 2016 that will be released in January 2019.

Does it really take three years for a major publisher to release a book that (by virtue of nearly a million reads on Wattpad, seems to be attractive to readers) is already quite good?

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